A Clovis & Portales Survival Guide
Having a restaurant for 12 years or so in such proximity to the base makes Saeng’s as much of a Cannon landmark as the F-111 on Grand & 7th.
If you havent noticed by now- I love Thai food. LOVE. THAI. FOOD. I stumbled onto this restaurant by accident. Being in Portales, its rare that I ever use Cannons front gate. Even more rare that I drive down Lasso Road. I guess what I am trying to say here is that I was way later than I should have been finding this treasure.
All the uniforms in there are nothing new to Saeng and she understands if you need to call in and place your order to go.
Her husband retired from Cannon and they decided to stick around.
Everything is authentic to her mothers homestyle cooking and its the little things that set this place apart from the other Thai restaurants springing up in the area. Expect real coconut milk in the curry. Expect the traditional super duper spiciness (dont be ashamed to ask for mild). She literally grows her own exotic herbs so you can sample the true flavors of Thailand. Its not easy to do but she makes everything happen true to her roots without settling for indigenous substitutes. Kudos.
My favorite is the ‘House Soup’ which is beef and rice noodle in a big ‘ol bowl of yummy clearish broth. The currys are always getting compliments and she makes an amazing Tom Yum (another soup). There are some favored Chinese dishes on the menu for good measure (Chinese is not my fav, way too greasy). Thai coffee and of course hot tea. I’ve always been a fan of her Pad Se Ew. I actually havent had anything I didn’t like.
Its an old spot and expect it to look… old. It seems like its very hit or miss with people for that reason. The ‘miss’ is usually people that prefer the Panda Express type establishments. Panda is not my jam so those people also think I am crazy. I’m OK with that. Where was I?… The beads and lantern decor up front are kitschy in a way. Nothing is fancy. The food is great. Lunch rush is NO JOKE (45 minute wait if you time it wrong) so I suggest calling your order in if you have limited time (never had any problems that way). The hours can be tricky so keep in mind they close between 2 and 4pm. SO MANY times I get a random craving and drive only to realize its 3 o’clock. There are also some Urban Spoon reviews that I have read complaining about them not taking credit cards… They totally accept cards. Oh!! and there is a separate room set up especially for meetings if you need someplace close to go for a work/eat combo.
I love most of all just sitting and chatting with Saeng and hearing her funny stories about her experiences in the military and all the people that have come in and out of her restaurant doors. She knows more Cannon gossip than I ever could have imagined. She is a mother to everyone. The kind of hospitable person that remembers the day of the week I came in last and remembers that I dont want any pork products in anything I order… ever.
This place gets a very enthusiastic thumbs up and I suggest every one go an give it a try. Not because she is an X Cannonian but because her food is freaking awesome and made with lots of love.